On the 8th of March, the European Commission released its proposal for a multi-annual management plan for demersal fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea.
In presenting the plan, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella stated that the plan “brings us one step closer to making Mediterranean fisheries more sustainable. We need to act, and we need to act with urgency”. The European Commission estimates that 93% of the Mediterranean fish stocks are over-exploited1. The plan aims specifically to reduce overfishing and to achieve the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by providing a single regulatory framework.
The proposal is a follow up of the MedFish4Ever Declaration adopted last year in order to step-up the cooperation with third countries and restore healthy fisheries. In this regard, one of the objectives of the plan is to increase regional cooperation among the three main countries involved in fishing in the area: Italy, which represents 50% of the 10 900 vessels active, Spain (39%) and France (11%).
The proposed multiannual plan, the first of his kind for the Western Mediterranean, would apply to commercial and recreational fisheries exploiting demersal stocks2, to by-catch stocks and also to the demersal stocks for which there are insufficient data. The Commission seems to have given up on its previous suggestion, that TACs and Quotas should be part of the management in this sea as it is in other places. Instead, effort limits are proposed for trawling. Every year the Council, on the basis of scientific advice, shall establish the maximum number of fishing days for each fleet concerned and restrictions on other gears as needed. This could include recreational gears. The proposal “provides for a substantial reduction of effort in the first year of implementation, in line with the scientific advice.”
Spatial-temporary closure are proposed, which would prohibit trawling within 100 metres depth from the 1st of May to the 31st of July in order to protect coastal zones, nursery areas and fragile habitats.
The public can give feedback on the proposal until the 3rd of May.
The proposal has been submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and amendments before final adoption.
The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a multi-annual plan, which could end overfishing in the Western Mediterranean within a few years. However, we expect the ministers and the EU Parliament to be less ambitious than the Commission. They likely will water down some of the provisions and targets.
EAA is actively engaged in Mediterranean Sea fisheries management via its membership of the Mediterranean Advisory Council (Med-AC).
More information on the plan is available here.